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Nick Charles, an ex-private detective, marries Nora and lives in a luxurious Park Avenue apartment in New York City. Nick's former underworld friends still hang around and get him involved in a number of crimes that he solves. Beatrice Dane is a beautiful con artist using the alias "Blondie Collins" and Nora finds it difficult to be hospitable to her. Written by
J.E. McKillop <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Not everyone realizes that THE THIN MAN television series from 1957 starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk is a part of the tragic story representing the final chapter of a legendary studio. For years MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer believed television to be a passing fancy and said it would never last. He refused to acknowledge the medium was a permanent phenomenon and the wave of the future. He never recognized it for what it was and for what it would eventually mean to the entertainment industry.
The movie studio system was beginning to dissolve by the mid 1950's and musicals, MGM's signature product, was on its last legs, too. As television gained ground against movies, Mayer remained in complete denial about the medium. He ridiculed it and said it would never last. Even after Mayer was replaced by Dore Schary in the early 1950's who brought in a completely different view of picture making, television wasn't part of the equation. MGM did launch THE MGM PARADE, a weekly television variety show hosted by George Murphey, but it was a bleak attempt to recycle the studio glory days and shriveled up quickly. THE THIN MAN series in 1957 was a weak attempt to gain a foothold in television by flipping pages from the William Powell--Myrna Loy 1930's photo album. But MGM failed to create anything fresh for the new medium and the studio's efforts were too little, too late.
As a show, THE THIN MAN was a perky, but superficial recreation of the Powell--Loy classic. Though Lawford, Kirk, and Asta were pleasant, the show flopped. In contrast to all of the aforementioned, consider what WARNER BROTHERS was doing at that same time: recognizing the impact of getting into every living room in America by producing television shows. For WARNER BROTHERS wisely began churning out a cavalcade of productions--particularly westerns and detective shows that capitalized on the era's programming trends. MAVERICK, SUGARFOOT, LARAMIE, 77 SUNSET STRIP, HAWAIIAN EYE, SURFSIDE SIX, BOURBON STREET BEAT, CHEYENNE, COLT .45--all were WARNER BROTHERS productions. The corporate market share must have been staggering. The successes of those shows bolstered WARNER BROS. for years.
By the late 1960's, MGM was caught in the winds of change. The final nail in the coffin occurred when congress decreed that studios could no longer own movie theatres. Las Vegas Hotel magnate Kirk Kerkorian purchased MGM primarily for its trademark name and Culver City real estate. He later issued a statement that the studio was now a relatively insignificant producer of motion pictures. MGM tore down its legendary back lots and sold the land. Then it auctioned off many collectibles from its vast studio archives. Since then MGM has been bought and sold by so many people there is not enough space here to list either the names or corporate intrigue (even Ted Turner took over and couldn't make a go of it).
THE THIN MAN wasn't just another innocuous 1950's television series that bombed. It is a deceivingly important piece of the story of a great studio beginning a slow descent into oblivion. By failing to recognize that one either adapts to change or becomes extinct, MGM made a catastrophic miscalculation. This is not to say that failure to produce television shows was the primary reason for a great studio's collapse, for other important issues were most assuredly at play. But THE THIN MAN represented just one example of a once great studio falsely believing that sitting on the laurels of past successes holds the key to future survivability.
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